The Easiest Way to Make a Tart Shell — No Tart Pan Required

published Jul 27, 2022
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lemon tart sits decorated with fruit and piping, sliced.
Credit: Photo: Ghazalle Badiozamani; Food Styling: Barrett Washburne

Instagram knows me. Sometimes I find this creepy, and sometimes it makes me very excited. For example, I love to bake and the ‘gram knows it. Recently, my feed showed a very fancy baker forming his tart shell on top of an inverted cake pan. This was new to me, and I’ve been baking for decades. I shared it with a group-chat of my beloved and very experienced food editors. No one else had ever seen it done this way, and everyone was intrigued. I just had to give it a try.

Credit: Janet McCracken

How to Make a Tart Shell Without a Tart Pan

Here’s how it works. Turn a cake pan upside down. Roll out the crust, then drape it over the cake pan. Gently press the sides onto the pan, and trim the edges with a sharp knife if you’d like. Bake according to the package or recipe instructions. Let cool upside down on the pan on a wire rack for a few minutes, invert it, and remove the pan. Voila!

I tried this trick with both a premade crust (Pillsbury), as well as homemade tart dough — and both worked like a charm! One of the coolest things about this method is that you can use any size cake pan, and trim the crust edges to whatever depth you want the tart to be.

One tip to keep in mind: You might need to use a sharp knife to gently release the bottom edges of the crust from the pan. Another watch-out: My Pillsbury crust cracked when I opened it up. That normally doesn’t happen, but I patched it up as best as I could. Sadly, when the crust baked, the cracks reappeared. My advice is if the crust cracks, don’t use it. Otherwise, this is a foolproof method that’ll have you making tarts in no time — no tart pan required.

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